Ant Carver (b.1991) graduated from Oxford Brookes with a degree in Fine Art and now works from a studio in Whitechapel, London. He is a figurative painter who combines traditional oil painting techniques with a contemporary style working on aluminium panel.
Hi Ant, thanks for taking the time to speak to us in what must be a busy period for you. Firstly, can we start from the top. What inspired you to paint?
Thanks for having me! I got into graffiti when I was about 13/14 but fairly quickly realised I lettering wasn’t all I wanted to do so started experimenting with portraiture and figurative based work. My interest in work on the streets and also more traditional portraiture started to combine. Over the last few years my inspiration has been life events & the reactions to those.
Your practice has a very unique aesthetic to it where you combine traditional oil painting techniques but with a contemporary twist on them. Could you let our readers know how you developed this style?
I had a definite style for a few years of graffiti covered backgrounds combined with black and white portraiture but I became unhappy with this and bored with producing paintings in the same old style where there didn’t feel to be much room for experimentation. I started to learn about more traditional portraiture techniques and eventually combined these with the street art elements. My style has now become an amalgamation of my interest in traditional techniques alongside contemporary art. This enables me to convey what I want the paintings to say. This glitchy and sketchy parts which now appear in my work help me to get the message across.
Your work is clearly a very personal journey exploring life experiences with grief and loss which must create an emotional connection with whatever piece you’re working on, are you able to talk about how you portray this in your pieces?
My style and way of working are representative of my emotions. The distortions in the mark making allow me to show what is present and what is not and to explore the reality of loss. The work came about following the loss of a friend when I found myself unable to talk about how I felt. I discovered that I could process my emotions through painting and the entire experience of producing these paintings was cathartic.
If we were to take a wander into your studio, what would we find as your go-to materials?
You would find aluminium panels, large tubes of oil paints, brushes of various sizes, squeegees and spray guns.
Whilst we stay on the subject of your studio, could you give us an insight into your creative practice by tell our audience the age old question – How do you approach a blank canvas?!
Approaching a blank canvas is normally the start of producing a painting. All my work is now based on a thought through theme as I like working on bodies of work and not just single pieces. That means I have an idea of what I want the painting to look like even before I begin it. I do have a process as I paint the canvas grey to start with, then do the sketch and finally start on the painted layers of the image. Some of these layers are done in one go, others are worked on over a period of time allowing the paint to dry before adding detail.
This is your first show in 4 years, what a great sense of achievement you must feel coming through the other side of the pandemic and being able to produce this body of work. Tell us how you feel about it!
I am proud of producing this body of work and excited for people to see it. It has taken 2 years to produce, mainly working alone so it will be lovely to see it all hung up for everyone to see rather than piled around my studio. The fact that this work has a significant meaning to me is also an achievement in itself.
Finally, is there anything else our audience can look forward to for the rest of 2022?
The plan for the rest of this year is to go abroad to paint some walls and then on my return to explore ideas on what my next body of work will be. I am aiming to do another exhibition next year so I will be doing research on what is, at the moment, only the beginning of an idea.
ll Alone in A Crowded Roomis is on display from 7th - 11th September 2022 at the Copeland Gallery Peckham.
Be sure to follow Ant on his Instagram